Duffield`s Estiqraar takes Sharjah feature

Gill Duffield and Royston Ffrench combined to win the featured 1700m conditions race with Estiqraar at Sharjah’s first meeting of the season on Saturday afternoon with the whole seven race card sponsored by Al Basti Equiworld.

Winner of his only previous start on the Sharjah dirt, six-year-old Estiqraar stayed on late to land the spoils under a determined Ffrench and to the delight of Duffield who said: “He won here over 2000m last season so we knew he would be staying on and he has shown a great attitude to win that. It is the best possible end to the afternoon.”

Champion Jockey Wayne Smith and previous title holder Tadhg O’Shea were both in double form with Smith in the saddle on Bin Shamardal who denied O’Shea’s mount Florentine Ruler, carrying the colours of sponsor Malih Al Basti, in the first of two Thoroughbred races, a 2000m handicap.

It was a first winner of the season for Smith’s main employer, trainer Musabah Al Muhairi and Smith said: “It is nice to get one on the board for the boss as the horses have been running well enough but just needing a run on the whole. Hopefully a few will follow now.”

Smith immediately doubled up in the following 1700m Purebred Arabian handicap for trainer Julio Peromingo.

O’Shea’s double came either side of Smith’s brace with Versac PY scoring a comfortable victory in the 2000m Purebred Arabian handicap for Erwan Charpy, before following up on Doug Watson’s Gulf Of Gold in the other Thoroughbred contest, a 1700m handicap.

Watson’s charge had to dig deep to deny fellow course specialist Shahin Shah in a driving finish and O’Shea said: “That was a really good battle between two horses who go very well here at Sharjah. Luckily my fellow has dug deep and had his head in front when it mattered.

“Versac PY took me there traveling so strongly I had to almost check him. He has looked about once he hit the front and jinked close home but did it well enough.”

Two 1200m handicaps opened proceedings and Pat Cosgrave, who missed the opener after being kicked, bounced straight back to win the second on Tony Manuel’s AF Ajiad.

Jesus Rosales won the first for trainer Jaber Bittar on Ouasima.